I just had the pleasure to watch the first leg of the African Play-off World Cup qualifier between Burkina Faso and Algeria. After Burkina Faso's sensational runner-up spot at the Africa Cup of Nations, they are now looking to qualify for their first World Cup ever. The Algerians are an experienced side who have already been to three World Cups, and are probably still favourites with their many young players plying their trade in leagues such as the Italian, French and Spanish.
In the first half things looked good for Burkina Faso when they got a correct penalty, but Aristide Bance missed it. However, in the last minute of the first half Jonathan Pitroipa, who plays in Rennes in France, brought the Burkinabes ahead 1-0 on an elegant header. In the second half Sofiane Feghouli equalized for Algeria, before Djakaridja Kone brought happiness back to the Burkina fans. But poor defending signified another equalizer for Algeria by Carl Medjani.
In the last minutes of the match Burkina Faso was awarded a highly controversial penalty. Watford defender Essaid Belkalem was penalized for a handball in the area, but on TV it could clearly be seen that it was not a handball, and he even seemed to be outside the area.
It would perhaps have been more fair if Aristide Bance had missed his shot this time, but on his second try he did not, and his goal gave Burkina Faso a 3-2 narrow victory and took the a step closer to Brazil. However, be sure that on 19th November, the Algerians will give a hellish welcome in Algeria. I hope the Burkinabes make it, but I think I would put my money on the Algerians.